Thursday, January 15, 2009

How I Slipped, Fell Down, and Found My Mind

Cup of coffee in one hand and a bag with a bagel in the other, I stepped up on the snow bank, careful to place my boot in the deepening impression made my many other previous boots, and prepared to unlock my car door with the remote, when my boot began to slip and my balance began quickly to go unsteady.

That’s when my mind left its thoughts and went into the body, attempting at first to stop the fall, and when that became a futile effort, using the body’s right arm and shoulder and even the side of its head to lessen the impact of a body falling from a height of two feet almost head-first onto pavement and the side of a car.

After the fall, nothing was broken, but quite a bit hurt. My body sat up from the ground where it now lay. My mind returned to thought, but not all of it. What had returned was trying to respond to two good Samaritans who were asking if I was alright. They both were trying to get me on my feet. But my mind had not completely returned to thought; much of it was assessing the bodily damage and beginning the process of repairing things.

So I suggested to them that I just stay there sitting, waiting for more of the mind to return. What had returned was chagrined that the coffee had completely spilled and the bagel was now underneath the car. The things it thinks! It also was recognizing a stream of coffee headed for my blue jeans. Bad enough there was dirt and coffee all over them as well as the jacket. The body would have to rise.

At first, thoughts looked for another cup of coffee. Hazily, I entered the Starbucks, and stood, ready to wait in a long line. But more of my mind was returning. This is crazy, it thought. Time to get in that car, return home, and assess the injuries with some thought. And so I did.

Now that was quite a mundane story of an everyday New England circumstance in the dead of winter and snow. But there are some things, I think, to take note. First is the way the mind will leave its thoughts when under an immediate external threat. Second is the way it slowly returns to thought, leaving much of itself in the body taking care of that business. This is what we call the state of shock. Mine, of course, was an extremely mild one. Those with one more severe will be barely capable of thought, if at all. I was quite hazy myself.

Thought should be quite the luxury for the mind, something that it does only when the immediacy of the moment does not require its attention. Unfortunately the mind gets lost in thought, like a child in a toy shop, and it stays way past closing. The result is some ungodly contraption made out of the legos of thought and ego thought. The truth is that the mind should be completely conscious of the present most of the time, and enjoy thought in its leisure, or in strategic moments.

It was a mind lost in thought that led to the initial slip of the boot. Only when the balance of things had shifted did the mind return to the moment. There was practically no thought involved. Probably none. But now it can type this assessment of what happened. It can see the need for a better allocation of its resources. Meanwhile, my intuition is reviewing the signs around this fall. All it knows at this time: it’s not returning to that Starbucks until the coast appears clear. I had lost almost a whole cup last week to some outward contamination.

Something is afoot.


Anonymous said...

yep. Mind is the regulatory system of the body. If the body gets infected or injured, mind detached itself for some time, just to avoid spread of the shock to the brain cells.
I think thats the complete reason. well, mind can be trained to power up such circumstances too.

greg perry said...

Yes! And that was the true insight here: detaching mind from thought is actually a natural process, the natural state. Unfortunately for most, it takes a catastrophic event to make it so again. They say there's no atheists in foxholes. Well, there's probably no sense of duality, no alienation from Self, in the heat of battle as well.